With Linda Hoaglund
In 1945, when Japan surrendered to the Allies following its catastrophic defeat in World War II, the country lay in ruins. Because the military government had refused to surrender even as U.S. planes firebombed sixty-five of its cities and atomic bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, postwar daily life for Japanese civilians remained a constant struggle, as people scrounged for materials to rebuild their homes and bartered on the black market for food. The postwar also ushered in seven years of occupation by the U.S. military, which settled into 250 military bases across Japan, breeding corruption and humiliating local populations. Although the occupation formally ended in 1951, the U.S. has always retained the right to keep military bases throughout Japan under the terms of the U.S Japan Security Treaty.
Over the course of the extended postwar era, Japanese film directors turned to these bleak realities to inspire their movies and audiences rewarded them by flocking to the newly built theaters, hungry for entertainment that spoke to the level of their privations. Ironically, through stories of poverty, political turmoil, occupation and corruption, filmmakers helped usher in Japan’s golden age of cinema. Working with miniscule budgets on tight schedules, the screenwriters and film directors deployed humor and compassion, outrage and irony to tell stories in every conceivable genre from melodrama, yakuza yarn, science fiction, pitch black comedy and even musicals.
In War and Memory in Postwar Japanese Cinema, director/producer Linda Hoaglund ‘79 will explore how master directors such as Kobayashi Masaki, Imamura Shohei, Honda Ishiro, Kurosawa Akira and Fukasaku Kinji devised original approaches across a wide range of genres to unflinchingly face their hobbled nation and hold the militarists accountable for their war crimes while conjuring riveting narratives and timeless entertainment. Hoaglund will introduce scenes from a range of films to highlight the ingenuity and passion postwar directors deployed to capture their country’s postwar predicaments. Hoaglund will also show clips from her own film, ANPO: Art X War, which reveals how Japan’s prominent artists portrayed the democratic uprising against the U.S. military bases that swept Japan in 1960.